As a family law mediator who mediates premarital agreements and prenuptial agreements, I’m often asked:
- What does a prenup look like?
- Do you have a sample?
I’d love to be able to give out a generic sample prenup, but there really is no such thing.
Prenups are as individual as the couples themselves (isn’t this blended family photo great?).
Depending on your priorities, some prenups deal with just one issue, like pre-marital property, family money, or a small business. Others take on every issue, including support and rights to the house if the couple was to separate.
And those are just the legal issues—often couples come to mediate their premarital agreement at Peace Talks and one spouse is upset and against the whole idea. They feel like their fiance does not trust them, or that prenups aren’t romantic.
Well, there’s nothing romantic about getting divorced, either. Or, if you have children from prior relationships, there’s nothing romantic about fighting with your deceased spouse’s children after a premature death.
The way I see it, if we don’t leave our estate planning up to the government (most people do Wills and Trusts), and we don’t let the government’s foster care system raise our children, why would we let the government decide what happens to all of our assets and the way our children will be raised in the event we decide to divorce or separate?
There are a few big advantages to premarital agreements that you may not have thought of:
- Doing a prenup forces you to talk about big issues, like money management styles and how you’ll share expenses (you’d be surprised, but many couples gloss over money differences as they plan for the Big Day!)
- You’ll talk about credit and how you manage credit as part of the process
- You’ll talk about your expectations about career and work, and working once children arrive. How would you feel if your spouse switched careers 10 years into a marriage? You’ll discuss all of this as part of your premarital mediation
- You’ll also talk about what happens if one of you dies or becomes disabled, or if you have to support elderly parents. I know it’s no fun to talk about that sort of thing, but better to be on the same page than to leave it up to chance.
And even if you don’t end up putting it in writing, I think there’s a huge value in having these discussions.
To start the discussion on your own, use the Peace Talks Premarial Checklist to get the discussion started.
Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post